Boldly Going

I get emotional over Star Trek.

When I was a kid, our fuzzy old TV could catch about six stations: the three networks, PBS, a local independent, and maybe a UHF channel or two. Although the local station ran blocks of monster/horror movies on the weekends, there wasn’t much else on the airwaves for a skinny nerd to call his own.

The glorious exception was reruns of Trek–The Original Series, which at the time was The Only Series. I devoured those episodes, watching them again and again. I cried every time Captain Kirk had to let Edith die in order to save the timeline, and cheered every time he beat the Gorn. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Scotty, and all the rest were a lifeline to me. No other fictional world before or since has had such a profound impact on my life, shaping my imagination and giving me an ideal to strive for.

When I was older I embraced the movies, TNG, DS9, and to a lesser extent the other shows. Though there was plenty of mediocre moments in those hundreds of hours of Trek, there were also some profoundly moving experiences. No matter how many times I’ve seen The Wrath of Khan, those scenes between Kirk and Spock leave me a blubbering mess. Shatner’s acting takes plenty of well-deserved knocks, but when he chokes on his words as he eulogizes Spock, I think it’s one of the most touching moments on film.

So when I heard plans to relaunch the franchise with a new cast taking on the classic roles of the original Trek, I was more than skeptical.

Happily, my fears were put to rest in the first five minutes of the film. It’s wonderful; go see it. It’s not just a great Trek film (possibly… possibly… the best of them all), it’s a great movie. I loved it.

If you need to hear more, there are some minor spoilers after the break.

So yeah, this is a relaunch of the franchise. Thankfully, it’s done in a way that honors continuity even as it renders it obsolete. (This is a good thing, by the way. The Trek franchise had way, way too much baggage to go forward the same way it had been. If they didn’t do a reboot like this, they would have needed to find another way to strip away excesses and focus on a new story.)

The scenes with Nimoy are spectacular. When he says the line to Kirk… you know the one… I nearly blubbered like a schoolboy.

The new cast is really good. Chris Pine nails all the important aspects of Kirk’s character without even coming close to parodying Shatner. Quinto is a great Spock, and made me forget all about Sylar. Karl Urban is perfect–PERFECT–as McCoy. And Simon Pegg is wonderful as Scotty, a role he completely makes his own.

I even liked the antagonist, Nero. He wasn’t some dastardly cosmic villain out to destroy the universe; he just wanted to inflict pain upon those he believed were responsible for his own.

Sure, it wasn’t a perfect film. You have to make a few leaps of plausibility similar to those needed in most action movies. But, importantly, you don’t have to turn a blind eye to blatant inconsistencies of character because there aren’t any. Our heroes act the way we want them to, and even though the timeline has been distorted they end up exactly where we want them to be.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I couldn’t be happier about this movie. Star Trek lives again, bringing with it the best of the original characters and all the adventure I fell in love with as a kid, updated for a new generation of moviegoers without compromising the important stuff. My hat’s off to J. J. Abrams for breathing new life into a franchise that had grown bloated and stale.

This cast is signed for two more films, and I can’t freaking wait to see them.

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Steve Danuser, also known as Moorgard, is a a writer, editor, and game designer.

8 thoughts on “Boldly Going”

  1. This was the first movie in a long time when I was just extremely extremely disappointed when it ended. I wanted to see what the next adventure was…. now.

    Such a good film. I mentioned it the other day, but I really really wish Lucas would have been able to do for SW (w / Ep 1-3) what Abrams did for Trek. It was just good story, EXCELLENT characters, great dialog and I presume good editing. Such a great film. Easily best Sci Fi I have seen in a long long time.

  2. I couldn’t agree more with you about Star Trek, MG…

    I really don’t like to talk about it much because so much baggage comes along with coming out as a star trek fan amongst the general population (I once foolishly told my students that I had learned the Klingon grammar from a book while finishing my degree in linguistics, and they (rightfully) berated me for the rest of the semester by asking me to say ridiculous things in Klingon for them…), but once you get passed the foolish folks wearing too tight star fleet uniforms and pointy ear get-ups there is real value to the series.

    I prefer TNG as my personal flavor of the potion. I remember clearing my schedule to get home and watch the weekly episodes when the show was still in production. For me, no other show has drawn me so deeply into its fiction.

    What I think is best about the new movie is that it isn’t just for the old fans. This movie is something that is going to attract brand new star trek fans into the genre, and that makes me happy. After Voyager (and I dare not mention that other show starring Scott Bakula) I really had the sense that the Star Trek universe was drawing its last breaths…and would soon be relegated to dvd collections, late night re-runs, and that very fun Quark’s bar in Vegas (we once had an Altera Vita get together there during FanFaire—though MG didn’t show up!).

    Star Trek has a lot to offer…and I there are lots of people out there that are being exposed to it right now. I’d love to see another revival of the genre, other spin-offs, and more movies…and, yes…even that very dubious Star Trek MMO.


  3. I really enjoyed the movie, for all the same reasons as MG.

    omg…do we agree on something? Did we just end up in an alternate timeline?

  4. So glad you liked the movie. I might have had trouble reading your blog, which I enjoy, if you were one of those silly people who didn’t like it. My reaction was much like yours, it was great Trek and a great movie.

    At the end I found myself really nostalgic for the original show and wanted to rush right out and buy it on DVD so I could rewatch it. I score that as a big success for the film — the movie put me in the mood for the original show because it captured the characters so well.

  5. I saw the movie and I really enjoyed it. For me Star Trek was always the original series. Paramount really dropped the ball when it handed over the franchise to Rick Berman et all with the Next Generation, Deep Space 9 (Bablylon 5 ripoff), Voyager, etc. The Star Trek universe became clean, sanitized and politically correct — all conditions that are the kiss of death for the kind of drama and conflict that were the hallmark of the original series.

    Thankfully J.J. Abrams has created a more robust, swaggering, younger more adventurous federation. Men are men and women wear skirts again. What’s not to like about that? I got a Starship Troopers feel from the movie. There seems to be a sense of purpose in Earth again, much like the clarity we all felt just after 9/11. You really felt that the Federation and Earth were fighting for their very survival.

    Coming out of the movie my wife and I compared the exhilaration we just felt with the recent Star Trek movies and laughed at how pathetic and tepid they seemed — all of the horrible written and acted characters with their stuffy phoniness.

    The old Star Trek is dead, long live the new Star Trek!

  6. At first, when I recognized the antagonist as “from the future” I said, “Really? They’re going to muck with the time line already?” Sitting there a moment I released how brilliant a move it was. In Star Trek you can’t alter a time line, you just make a new one. Wonderful! Everything that exists can exist! We just get to view another reality. I was thrilled by that.

    I enjoyed the movie as well. Some of it did require a leap of faith but I thought for the most part it worked out quite well. I liked most of the actor choices for the characters but I just don’t feel like Chekov is right. I have no reason why other than he looks about as gangly and silly as I did when I was 17. Walter wasn’t quite so.

    Ultimately though, if the worst criticism I can muster is “Chevok is gangly,” I think we’re way ahead! I enjoyed the movie very much and look forward to the following ones and, perhaps, a new series?

  7. Star Trek was truly epic and fantastic. I have a pretty short attention span but I thoroughly enjoyed the film and didn’t want it to end. It was really cool to see the franchise getting the update it deserves.

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